Boston Newlywed Killed by 15-Foot Shark While Paddleboarding on Honeymoon

boston woman killed by shark

Getty A Boston woman was killed by a shark (not pictured)

A 44-year-old Boston, Massachusetts, woman was killed by a shark while paddleboarding in the Bahamas on her honeymoon, according to a statement from the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

The press release said that a “44-year-old American female visitor from Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. has died as a result of a shark attack that occurred around 11:15 a.m. on Monday 4th December, 2023.”

Lauren Erickson Van Wart, 44, was identified as the victim y the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Van Wart worked as a math curriculum editor and lived in Lowell.

lauren van wart

LinkedIn (Lauren Erickson Van Wart)Lauren Erickson Van Wart

An eyewitness told Eyewitness News in the Bahamas that the woman was paddleboarding with her husband. “They just got married yesterday,” he told the television station, adding that the shark was estimated to be 15-feet long and wouldn’t let go of the paddleboard at first.

WCVB-TV reported that the shark attack occurred near the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in New Providence.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Boston Woman Was Paddleboarding With a Male Relative When the Shark Attacked Her Away From the Shoreline, Police Say

Preliminary reports “indicate that the victim, along with a male relative, was paddle boarding away from the shoreline in waters at the rear of a resort in western New Providence when she was bitten by a shark,” the police news release says.

According to the release, the resort lifeguard on duty “responded to the incident unfolding, went into a rescue boat, retrieved the victim and the male relative from the water, and brought them to safety while administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the victim.”

The victim “suffered significant trauma to the right side of her body,” the release said. “She was examined on scene by emergency medical technicians, who concluded that she showed no vital signs of life.”

An official identification process “by the next of kin will be conducted at the Rand Lab (P.M.H.) as His Majesty Coroner continues investigation into this incident,” police wrote.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of a guest while on a paddleboarding activity nearly a mile from the shore. We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the guest’s family and loved ones. We remain in close contact with them and are providing all support possible during this difficult time,” Sandals Resorts said in a statement, according to WCVB.

An Eyewitness Described How the Shark Wouldn’t Let Go of the Bloody Paddleboard


Michele Spatari/AFP via GettyA black-tip sharks is seen swimming during a baited shark dive in Umkomaas near Durban, South Africa, on December 10, 2020.

The eyewitness, a jet ski operator, told the Bahamas-based television station that the man with the woman was her husband, and they were paddleboarding about three quarters of a mile from the shore, near the Sandals resort.

“We saw the victim and her husband,” he said, adding that they were “laughing and talking, and they were just paddling out on the paddleboard and like they were out there for like 20, 25 minutes.”

All of a sudden, a worker from the resort pulled up a boat’s anchor and “then she shoot out there. And then she pulled them up and then she asked for assistance. So the guys on the jet ski went out there and they help, assisted, but boy, the shark, he’s had to been like they say like 15 foot long,” the man told the television station. “And the victim was pulled on board.”

The eyewitness told the television station that the shark “had the paddleboard for himself.” The shark pulled it down and “it was submerged for like 15 seconds, 20 seconds. So he was out there like patrolling around the board,” which still had “all the blood on it,” the man said.

The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File “investigated 108 alleged shark-human interactions worldwide in 2022. ISAF confirmed 57 unprovoked shark bites on humans and 32 provoked bites,” its website says.

“The 2022 worldwide total of 57 confirmed unprovoked cases is lower than the most recent five-year (2017-2021) average of 70 incidents annually. There were nine shark-related fatalities this year, five of which are assigned as unprovoked. This number is in line with the 5 year annual global average of six unprovoked fatalities per year,” the site says.

“Annual fluctuations in shark-human interactions are common. Despite 2021’s spike in fatalities, 2022 was a return to typical long-term trends which show a decreasing number of annual fatalities.”

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